Regardless of socio-economic status, geographic location, race or religion, people across the globe consume food products. This creates a highly competitive marketplace for the food manufacturing industry. Grocery stores are packed with food in a range of manufactured products, from powders to grains, cereals, snack bars, gels and convenience meals- all formulated with scientific precision.
Manufacturers and raw material suppliers must have a firm understanding of efficiency practices with regards to process manufacturing in order to thrive in this environment.
Optimizing product quality and yields is a worthy investment, whether you’re just starting out with a new product idea or pursuing the perfection of one that’s stood the test of time. We had one such food manufacturing company come to us with precisely this need, assistance in improving both the food development and manufacturing process simultaneously.
At the point they came to us, they were only making small sample batches of their product and had yet to define their manufacturing process. They reached out to Kett after realizing a moisture meter could hold the answer to some of their operational difficulties, and choosing us as a supplier who offered the widest selection of models on the market. As we have over 200 different options, selecting the right tool to meet their need involved conversations between our applications engineers and their operations team.
In one of our earliest conversations, we asked them to identify discrete measurement points in their batch process where they would be measuring moisture. They named four:
- During pre-treatment
They had been utilizing traditional moisture balances which operate on a ‘loss on drying’ principle. We then asked them to describe their frustration points with this technology, helping us to identify one of our products that might deliver a solution to these issues. They identified the following needs:
- Real-time test results.
- Reduction of product variability between batches.
- Simulating an online continuous analyzer.
- Improving process line design and development.
- An instrument requiring minimal manpower (or woman power)!
After a careful assessment, we suggested our KJT130, a unique portable moisture meter that utilizes infrared sensing, providing instant, non-contact, non-destructive moisture readings at all four measurement points of their process. We also supplied them with desktop and online systems to utilize during ramp-up and full-time production periods. This ensured that data gathered during the development cycle could be easily shifted to full-time measurement instrumentation needed as the product volume grew exponentially. Additionally, as the KJT130 is a handheld device, it can easily be operated by a single individual, addressing the last of their concerns (lack of operator time and expertise).
We then worked with our customer to calibrate the instrument to agree with their referee lab method. Consequently, the development staff determined set points needed at each stage of the process to achieve maximum product quality and yield. Production staff minimized batch differences by correcting process drift, thanks to immediate access to test results. Furthermore, accurate, high efficiency, ongoing testing allowed the company to immediately eliminate marginal or out of spec products as needed.
In sum, we worked with an innovative customer to understand their company’s current manufacturing process, identify specific needs, match them with the right instrument and to help them ensure a successful product launch.